Fire the cannons, release the pigeons. Tony Dungy announced that his undefeated Colts will be going for the win each and every week leading up to the playoffs.
On Indy's second possession in Jacksonville on Sunday, Peyton Manning dropped back to throw, slipped and fell heavily, his right ankle twisted beneath him. Back in Indianapolis the collective intake of breath sounded like a stiff wind blowing through a forest.
Manning finished the game, conducting himself with his usual aplomb. But we won't know how bad that ankle really was, or if the fall amounted to anything, until his heirs unseal his memoirs years after his demise.
I have seen reports that the Colts' 26--18 victory over the Jaguars, who trailed 26--3 in the fourth quarter, was never in doubt. Don't believe it. The Jags came at Indy with a late rush, scoring quickly, recovering an onside kick and scoring quickly again. Had Jacksonville forced a punt and gotten the ball back, who knows what might have happened? The Colts were on their heels: Their pass rush had dried up, the defense looked tired.
If the Colts go at the Chargers hard this Sunday, it will mean victory No. 14 for them. They've had their scare now. They know they're not invincible. But perhaps, upon careful reflection and concern for Manning's ankle, Dungy will decide that his team doesn't need a slugfest with the major work still ahead. And it will be bench time for the superstars.
San Diego got out-toughed by Miami on Sunday. The specter of no postseason looms very large. The Chargers are desperate. And assuming Indy is at full strength, they'll be even more desperate after the Colts come away with a victory.
After his Cowboys stayed alive in the NFC East race by barely getting by the Chiefs on Sunday, owner Jerry Jones said, "This game was our season." Well, what about the September matchup against Washington? Or the two Giants games, or the pair against the Eagles? There have been lots of "season" games for Dallas. At his age, coach Bill Parcells shouldn't have to go through this kind of stress.
But there's another season game this week--the second meeting with the Redskins. It's in Washington. The Skins are favored, at least for now. Good, because I need an upset really bad, and this is it. The Cowboys win by turning the contest into a shootout. They're good at that now.
The last two quarterbacks the Patriots faced were Brooks Bollinger and J.P. Losman. Now their defense gets a stronger challenge in the Bucs' Chris Simms. But it's in Foxborough, and I will never--repeat, never--bet against Tom Brady on his home turf in December. Pats take it.
The Chiefs need a victory over the Giants more than New York needs one over K.C. But the game's at the Meadowlands, where the Chiefs are 0--5 against the Giants. In K.C., I might be inclined to go with the home team; in New Jersey the Giants are the pick. Atlanta is a tempting upset possibility over reeling Chicago. But still very vivid is what the Bears did to Carolina when the Panthers paid them a visit a few weeks ago. I see a repeat performance by Chicago, in Chicago, for Chicago.
Pittsburgh will burst the Vikings' bubble in the Metrodome, and in another in the long parade of 2005 Monday-night showstoppers, Baltimore will squeak by the Packers. --Paul Zimmerman
Last week: 5--2 Overall: 71--36
> Dr.Z writes for the web every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at SI.com/NFL.